Top Senegal mayor detained over fraud allegations

By BBC News

The mayor of Senegal’s capital, Dakar, has been placed in custody for allegedly embezzling public money.

A judge investigating $2.9m (£2.3m) in missing city funds has charged Khalifa Sall with fraud, criminal conspiracy and money laundering.

He denies any wrongdoing and says his arrest is politically motivated.

Sall, who has been Dakar’s mayor since 2009, has been widely considered a possible presidential contender for elections in 2019.

He is a member of the Socialist Party, part of the ruling coalition, but he is considered a maverick.

The mayor was arrested on Tuesday and spent the night in detention, along with at least five members of his staff.

Under Senegalese law, he will not be eligible for bail and will stay in jail until his trial.

This is the second high-profile corruption case in Senegal since President Macky Sall was elected into office in 2012 amid widespread popular discontent about corruption.

In 2015, Karim Wade, the son of the former President Abdoulaye Wade, was sentenced to six years in prison for illegally enriching himself.

A senior minister in his father’s government, he had been in custody since 2013 and received a presidential pardon last year.

He now lives in exile in Qatar.

Just as in Karim Wade’s case, supporters of the Dakar’s mayor say he is a victim of a plot to undermine him.

“This arrest and detention [are] only to stop Khalifa Sall in his political ambitions,” Sall’s lawyers said in a statement.